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10.11.2004 General News

Congress of African business and prof. women open

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - The development of every nation would only be sustainable if women are actively involved in the formulation of its developmental strategies, Mrs Gladys Asmah, Minister of Women and Children's Affairs, said on Wednesday.

To achieve this, educated and professional women should be encouraged to offer themselves to serve in roles in public life. "Whether viewed in the historical or contemporary context, the African women have played and continue to play a pivotal role in developing our society," Mrs Asmah said at the first-ever Africa Regional Congress of International Federation of Business and professional Women (BPW) in Accra.

"What we have achieved in the classrooms, boardrooms and in our homes, among others, must put to rest any doubt that women are less capable."

Participants at the four-day congress are drawn from the United States, Switzerland, Egypt, Nigeria, Togo, Benin, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Ghana. Itr is under the theme "Economic Emancipation of the African Woman - The Role of ICT."

In sub-Saharan Africa, women comprise 60 per cent of the informal sector, provide about 70 per cent to total agricultural labour and produce about 90 per cent of food produce. However, in the world of formal economics, this form of economic activity is considered a domestic or household activity and not featured in national income computing.

"Household production is neither recognized nor integrated into our national budget nor policy making processes. "

Mrs Asmah said if empowerment and emancipation meant the ability to take control of one's own life and enhanced capacity, then nothing could be more empowering than access to information to improve on one's field of profession.

She said Information Communication Technology (ICT) was an essential propellant of growth and the most cost-effective way to empower the rural folks, especially the African woman to enhance their ability to participate in decision-making and governance.

She therefore stressed the need for women to work together in ensuring their proper representation in all sectors of society. Ms Vera Kpeto, African Coordinator of BPW, said the late Dr Esther Ocloo and a few-like minded women, including Mrs Asmah, formed the organisation 28 years ago to encourage entrepreneurial development, attainment of maintenance of high professional and business practice and service.

She said the PBW was not only a mouthpiece for business women and professionals but it involved organizing women in both rural and urban centres, training coordinating with other organizations geared to assist women in improving the qualities of their lives.

Ms Kpeto said most women lacked adequate capital and technical know-how to pursue their socio-economic and political ambitions and seek proper healthcare for themselves and their children.

The International President of PBW, Dr Antoinette Ruegg, commended Africa for organizing the congress and stressed that the development of women's potentials was crucial in any meaningful economic growth of a nation.

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